Paleontology

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Collections

The Department of Paleontology houses collections of fossil vertebrates, invertebrates, and plants collected primarily from Mesozoic- through Cenozoic-aged sites in southern California and northern Baja California, Mexico. Important collections of Paleozoic invertebrates from the eastern United States are also part of the department's holdings. Especially important are the department's collections of marine vertebrates including one of the largest and most diverse assemblages of Pliocene (2-4 million years old, Ma) marine mammals (whales, dolphins, fur seals and walruses) in North America. Also significant are collections of Eocene (40-50 Ma) and Oligocene (28-30 Ma) land mammal fossils from southern California localities.

Presently the collections include over 108,000 numbered species lots. These lots vary in size from single specimens (e.g., an isolated mammal tooth) to suites of specimens (e.g., 300 shells of a particular species of marine snail). The average lot size is about 20, so that the total number of cataloged specimens in the collection is in excess of 1,550,000. The specimens have been recovered from a total of 2,890 recorded collecting localities, primarily from southern California and northern Baja California, Mexico. There are 578 primary and 537 secondary types.

Significant contributions include the Anthony Vogdes collection of trilobites and his geological library in 1923; a purchase of fossil vertebrates from noted collector Charles Sternberg in 1920; and the Plio-Pleistocene mollusk collection of geologist U. S. Grant, IV.

Use Policy

The collection may be used by appointment only. Arrangements may be made by contacting Dr. Tom Deméré at 619.255.0232 or tdemere@sdnhm.org. See Policies and Protocols. Specific inquiries about the invertebrate and vertebrate fossil collection can be made to Kessler Randall (krandall@sdnhm.org).